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Walden Or, Life In The Woods And "On The Duty Of Civil Disobedience" (Signet Classics)

3.96  ·  Rating Details  ·  26,881 Ratings  ·  724 Reviews
'If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music he hears, however measured or far away.'

Disdainful of America's growing commercialism and industrialism, Henry David Thoreau left Concord, Massachusetts, in 1845 to live in solitude in the woods by Walden Pond. Walden, the classic account of his
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Published (first published November 8th 2007)
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Benjamin Richards I'm learning that folk have been craving a simpler lifestyle for a long time. Can you imagine Thoreau in the 21st century? Although his narrative is…moreI'm learning that folk have been craving a simpler lifestyle for a long time. Can you imagine Thoreau in the 21st century? Although his narrative is hard to digest, the evocation in his text is beautiful. Life can be more sedentary without suffering motivation. In fact if we aspired to live more in accordance with his ideals the world would change dramatically.(less)
David Lentz "Walden" and "Civil Disobedience" both are nonfiction. Thoreau actually lived for two years in a one-room, micro-cabin, built by his own hands with…more"Walden" and "Civil Disobedience" both are nonfiction. Thoreau actually lived for two years in a one-room, micro-cabin, built by his own hands with tools borrowed from Concord neighbors, beside Walden Pond in Concord, Massachusetts in 1847 and wrote about it in "Walden." He sought "self-reliance" and survived as a vegetarian by a bean field in his garden and lived on resources that he found in the woods. He wants to get beyond or "transcend" everyday life in Concord and awaken to the beauty and harmony of life by living every moment in Nature. “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived,” Thoreau writes in Walden in "Where I Lived, and What I Lived For." His deliberate action to immerse himself in nature would repeat itself throughout his brief life as he canoed the Concord and Merrimack Rivers, walked the beaches of Cape Cod and traveled in the wilds of Maine. "Civil Disobedience" is his essay which called for improving rather than abolishing government: "I ask for, not at once no government, but at once a better government." Tolstoy, Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. were vastly influenced by this essay, which couldn't be more relevant than right now: American Democracy seems to have lost its roots in its humanity, and is deeply and systemically in danger of becoming an oligarchy.(less)
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Greg
The tale of a man who dared to live in his parents backyard and eat dinner with them, and then lived to write about it. Compelling.
David Lentz
May 05, 2016 David Lentz rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)  ·  review of another edition
Henry David Thoreau is best known as an American writer and transcendentalist who wanted first-hand to experience intuitively and understand profoundly the rapport between man and nature. In a sense Thoreau is Adam after the Fall living East of Eden as a bachelor in a humble cabin built beside Walden Pond by his own hands with tools borrowed from Concord neighbors and sustained by the fruits of a bean field sown in his garden and with resources granted to him by the wilderness. He wants to trans ...more
James
Jun 24, 2007 James rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone
Shelves: recently-read
I often credit this book with my philosophical awakening. Thoreau presents a criticism of modern life, technology, economy, and wasteful culture from the perspective of one who has simplified his life and experienced something much closer to real independence than any other modern man. Some have criticized him for not being truly and completely independent - he lived on Emerson's property, he visited friends for the occasional dinner, he washed his clothes at his mother's house - but I think the ...more
Elizabeth
Aug 18, 2007 Elizabeth rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
Walden: I take issue with a wealthy man living in a shack for a period and pretending that living one mile from town and having his mother do his laundry qualifies him to advise mankind to "sell your clothes and keep your thoughts."

An experiment in simplicity, getting close to nature, I'm all for it. But when your experiment ends in a renewal of your previous lifestyle, how can you advise others to make changes that would leave them in the position permanently?
Jan-Maat
This book alerted me to the fickleness of my own opinions.

At first it all seemed rather nice "the majority of men live lives of quiet desperation" and all that. But then I found out about the doughnuts.

Apparently every so often Thoreau would walk down the road to the nearby town where his Mum lived and she would treat him to doughnuts. Thoreau in Walden doesn't mention the doughnuts, instead detailing the amount of beans he grew but for me the doughnuts torpedo the project in three ways.

Firstly
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Mike
Mar 12, 2012 Mike rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Walden is not for everyone. This is why it is so accurately and justifiably cherished by its admirers, and so ridiculously and criminally misunderstood by its detractors. The critics of Walden levy ad hominem after ad hominem against Thoreau, as if the utmost specifics of his experience detract from the purported "arguments" he puts forth about the absolute means everyone "must" live their lives. Clearly his meditations on cherishing solitude are false, because he did enjoy company every now and ...more
Jessica
Sep 11, 2007 Jessica rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I first read Walden in perhaps the most ideal set of circumstances possible -- for an entire semester my first year of college, in a highly popular seminar made up of 20 first year students and a brilliant professor of intellectual history. All of the students had been chosen at random from among those interested in the course, and we felt lucky to have been selected. Each class, the professor would ask us to do a close reading of the next chapter, plus re-read all the preceding chapters, and th ...more
David
Here's the thing: I like what Thoreau did here, and I agree with many of his philosophical points, and I hate giving up on books. That said, dude was pompous and long-winded. I've been trying to read this for about a month, but it has become that archetypal High School Summer Reading Book. You know, the one that you hate but is looming over you from the moment you get out of school until you finally look up the spark notes the morning of the first day that fall before the bus comes. I stopped re ...more
Meghan Krogh
Mar 19, 2016 Meghan Krogh rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone who would like this has already read it
THIS BRO. I had a crush on Hank (or his modern-day counterparts) several times over in college. I am really glad I outgrew that phase. His self-contradictory, misrepresentative memoir of living a mile out of town on Walden Pond is one of the most aggravating, arrogant things I've had to read in a while. (For reference to just how REMOTE and NATURAL this setup truly was, remember that it's where Amy fell through the ice in Little Women, so the walk back to Concord wasn't too long or she would hav ...more
Milo
I actually got to visit Thoreau's cabin for my brother's birthday this April. Despite it being below freezing the mosquito's had already started to breed. When we approached the pond we were engulfed in a cloud of them. I could almost hear them singing with delight as they began to feast. Almost...
perhaps intermittently between screams. (As a side note I would like to say that I am terrified of bugs. Especially the flying ones that like to bite) In denial of the adject horror I was experiencing
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Tempo de Ler
May 28, 2016 Tempo de Ler rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition


Escritos no século XIX, tanto Walden(Walden ou a Vida nos Bosques)como Civil Disobedience (A Desobediência Civil) continuam a fazer todo o sentidoà luz dos conhecimentos e experiência que adquirimos ao longo de mais de século e meio de tempo decorrido.

Ao partilhar connosco a sua experiência nos bosques de Walden, onde viveu dois anos isolado, Thoreau pretende mostrar-nos uma via alternativa; uma outra forma de viver, mais conscienciosa e em harmonia tanto connosco como com a Natureza. Quebrand
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Sarah
Sep 16, 2013 Sarah rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I read this for one of my university English courses.

Okay, so coming to the end of "Walden" (we didn't read "Civil Disobedience"), I was just completely unimpressed. Thoreau is so redundant and he contradicts his own ideas multiple times. The plot of the book (if you can even call it a plot) focuses on Thoreau's experience living on his own for two years, supporting himself solely and living off of the land near Walden Pond. This experiment was meant to prove that he could be self-sufficient wit
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Jessica
Mar 07, 2009 Jessica rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really had no clue what to expect when I picked this book up. I had never read it, and was only introduced to Thoreau through a grad course reading requirement of his. I fell in love then and this book continued that love. While many of his ideas are now cliche, to think that he was speaking them at a time when it was unheard of is incredible to me. There were many "ah ha" moments, when I realized things about everyday life that had not been clear to me before. Ideas about living simply and th ...more
Tim
Jun 09, 2008 Tim marked it as favourites  ·  review of another edition
"I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, to discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broa ...more
Dux
Mar 22, 2016 Dux rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
I really give this a low 3/5 because although I did like it during the first half, I read it for school and that can be very detrimental to your enjoyment.

+ Philosophical Discussions
+ Unbelievable air of beauty in certain chapters

- Long

BUY/BORROW/SKIP: Borrow
Final Rating: 5.8 / 10
Thomas
Jan 02, 2016 Thomas rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: american-classic
Thoreau is a great writer, despite his misanthropy and occasional moments of arrogance. Thoreau does not care what anyone else thinks, and he doesn't think you should care what other people think either. He describes his first year at Walden in intimate detail, and then sums up the second year in a sentence, saying it was pretty much the same. Surely he had some observations during that second year that we might find enlightening, but no. He's done. I find his grumpiness amusing, though I can se ...more
David Ranney
Dec 04, 2014 David Ranney rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It is never too late to give up our prejudices. No way of thinking or doing, however ancient, can be trusted without proof.

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But how happens it that he who is said to enjoy these things is so commonly a poor civilized man, while the savage, which has them not, is rich as a savage? The cost of a thing is the amount of what I will call life which is required to be exchanged for it, immediately or in the long run.

***
As if you could kill time without injuring eternity.

***
The very simplicity and n
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J.M. Hushour
Nov 23, 2014 J.M. Hushour rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have espoused the belief in the past that, like Ayn Rand, Thoreau is just one of those writers that turns his readers into insufferable assholes for weeks afterwards. Ears clapped shut 'neath clammy palms, one feels driven to flee this politically adverse duality. Thus, I have never read "Walden". Until now.
It's easy to mock Thoreau--if you've never actually read the work. For all his seeming pretensions and the empty, wrong-headed criticisms leveled against him as "the guy who lived in someon
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Jordan
May 14, 2014 Jordan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, own
During my progress through this book I kept bouncing back and forth between hating Thoreau and loving his ideas. Thoreau has some great concepts and his "economy" and "conclusion" sections of Walden really drew me in to his ideas. But. Thoreau is kind a self-important asshole. He's just so full of himself and how awesome he is for living in his little cabin and how much better it makes him than all those poor fools weighted down by their lives. I really don't think he has any right to be so full ...more
Steph
Jan 03, 2014 Steph rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I never read Walden in high school, and I always thought I'd hate it but I kind of liked it a lot.

If Walden were published today, it would be one of those tone-deaf voluntary poverty memoirs, with roots in some shitty blog with a large following of young white male libertarians. Thoreau was a Harvard-educated white dude who chose to live in the forest, and there's a particularly painful part of Walden in which he lectures an impoverished distant neighbor (who has a wife and kids) on how he shoul
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Betty
Jul 12, 2012 Betty rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012
Thoreau is kind of a brat. I'm sorry! I understand and appreciate his commitment to shedding material goods, living off of his own labor, valuing the natural world, etc. But every time he describes conversing with someone else, he comes off as painfully condescending, whether he's just marveling at the purity of their simplistic minds or smirking at a family that's had him over for dinner, who seem, to him, far too burdened with their material possessions. He rarely describes the hardships encou ...more
E
Jan 15, 2011 E rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: politics-history
A professor of mine once said that all human thought since Socrates is mere footnotes to his ideas. Having all but minored in leftist political history from the American Civil War to the present, Thoreau's writings would strike me as unoriginal did I not know that everything I've read before now has simply been the footnotes.

I felt some degree of ideological stimulation and an immense sense of reverence when considering his political theories. I felt a chill while imagining Gandhi's and Dr. Kin
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BJ Rose
Thoreau said, "A written word is the choicest of relics." As someone who loves to read, I agree completely.

There were some real gems in this book - the sections on 'Sound' and 'Solitude' may end up being my favorite part of the book, since I also love watching & listening to nature. And he spent a very interesting 4 pages describing a war between red ants & black ants! But then he followed that up with a long, boring description of Walden Pond, how its shoreline is made of a belt of smoo
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Mark Sobralske
I love this book. His minimalist approach to life left him time to do what he'd rather be doing. Instead of buying a farm on a loan and working his whole life to pay it off, like his neighbors, Thoreau did what he wanted to do in life by living simply.
I look at this as a manual on how to cut the fat from one's life to focus on what one really wants to do rather than get caught up in the day to day. Just because Thoreau lived his way, doesn't mean we should live like him.. I don't think that's wh
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sologdin
Aug 02, 2012 sologdin rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy
I didn't think there'd be a worse Important Book than Steppenwolf, but sure enough, here it is.

Surly primativist lives in woods & muses about beans, ice, animals, and suchlike. There's much consternation regarding the local village, the train, the citylife. Might have more reasonably entitled this Against the Townies.

"Civil Disobediance" is also a waste of space--libertarian propaganda not saved by anti-war & anti-slavery propositions.

Numerous pithy statements in both texts, but godsdamm
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Jeffrey Rasley
May 15, 2016 Jeffrey Rasley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Walden was chosen by our UChicago Alumni Book Club as one of the books we should have read in college, but didn't. I think I read a portion of it, but don't remember for sure. Of course, since Walden is in the American canon and it is a touchstone in the ecology movement, I had firm preconceptions about the book. I actually thought there would be no surprises, but I was wrong. I was surprised by what a grumpy, judgmental, hypocritical old crank Thoreau comes across as. The book is full of kerne ...more
julieta
Jul 01, 2015 julieta rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If there is one thing I loved about this book, it is just the idea of getting down to basics, and asking big questions while you are at it. At some moments he sounds kind of righteous, but then he sounds like what he probably is, an eccentric who follows his own drum. You don't have to agree with everything he says to enjoy it, this book is worthwhile just for some of the ideas it throws at you.
Alan Gerstle
Aug 02, 2015 Alan Gerstle rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves:
I found a copy in the author's shack at Walden Pond. Who would have thought it still was standing decades after his demise.
Nate
Apr 01, 2016 Nate rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
i had read a part of walden in high school - pretty sure it wasn't the whole thing anyways. for the most part its a pretty interesting set of musings on man, nature and the role one's life plays in the world. it offers a snapshot of american life before two crucial turning points in history, namely the american civil war and the electrical revolution. thoreau mentions the telegraph but doesn't see any use for it - would be interesting to hear his thoughts if he had lived another 30 years. growin ...more
Ray Zimmerman
One View of Walden
Reviewed by Ray Zimmerman

At one point, Thoreau describes the passing of a day as a microcosm of the year. He likens the dawn and sunrise to spring, midday to summer, sunset and twilight to autumn and night to winter. Just as the day is a model of the year in his analogy, the year is a model of his book. The first two chapters are apologetics, his argument as to why he is at odds with the greater society as well as how and why he built the shack at Walden Pond and lived there. A
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fiction or nonfiction 2 4 Dec 01, 2014 10:32AM  
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Henry David Thoreau (born David Henry Thoreau)was an American author, naturalist, transcendentalist, tax resister, development critic, philosopher, and abolitionist who is best known for Walden, a reflection upon simple living in natural surroundings, and his essay, Civil Disobedience, an argument for individual resistance to civil government in moral opposition to an unjust state.

Thoreau's books,
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“The universe is wider than our views of it.” 163 likes
“The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation. From the desperate city you go into the desperate country, and have to console yourself with the bravery of minks and muskrats. A stereotyped but unconscious despair is concealed even under what are called the games and amusements of mankind. There is no play in them, for this comes after work. But it is a characteristic of wisdom not to do desperate things.” 88 likes
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